Whether we like it or not, the NFL scouting combine can be a make-or-break event for many prospects. In-game performance isn't discounted, but how a player looks in shorts and a T-shirt at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will have much to do with where he ultimately gets drafted.
Some players aren't particularly impressive in non-game situations, so those players likely aren't looking forward to the combine. There are other players who are measurably fast, agile and strong, and they have to be champing at the bit to show teams how much athletic ability they possess.
Here are three underrated offensive playmakers who will help their draft stock immensely with strong showings at the combine.
RB Lamar Miller, Miami
Running backs have been getting drafted later and later in recent years, so Miami rusher Lamar Miller is currently fighting an up-hill battle. Alabama running back Trent Richardson is the consensus top back in the class and is a lock to go in the first round, but Miller's status is a little less certain. Miller racked up nearly 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns this past season, his first as a full-time starter, but his combine performance will decide his fate.
Miller figures to be one of the fastest backs in the draft as his 5.5 yards-per-carry average this past season suggests he has home-run ability. On top of that, Miller has excellent size for the position at 5'11" and 212 lbs. Few runners possess the combination of speed and strength that Miller has, so some team is likely to be enticed to select him in the opening round after watching him in Indy.
WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
Over the course of NFL history, plenty of former track stars have tried to succeed at the wide receiver position. Some, like "Bullet" Bob Hayes, have thrived, while others, like James Jett, haven't been so lucky. Baylor receiver Kendall Wright has a decorated track background, and he will certainly hope to be more like Hayes than Jett at the NFL level.
The speedy Wright has a dominant force this past season as he racked up 108 catches for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III throwing him the ball. There is no question that Wright's biggest asset is his speed. He has been clocked as having sub-4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash in the past, and he will look to improve upon that at the combine. If Wright can run in the 4.3s, he stands a great chance of going somewhere around the top 20.
Which player will impress most at the NFL Scouting Combine?
TE Orson Charles, Georgia
Thanks to the New England Patriots' success with the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the new rage in the NFL is sure to be the utilization of the tight ends. Considering where they were 10 years ago, tight ends have already taken a big step forward, but they are starting to become more and more like big wide receivers. The next hot tight end in the NFL could very well be Orson Charles out of Georgia.
While Clemson's Dwayne Allen is receiving a lot of the attention, Charles has the size (6'3", 241 lbs.) and speed to be an immediate impact player. As far as tight ends go Charles may be a bit on the smaller side, but Hernandez proved that diminutive tight ends can be major producers. Charles figures to look awfully good at the combine, and if he lands in the right situation then he could be a force from day one.